Receive our Behind the Headlines email and we’ll post a free copy of Byline Times
GB News faces a barrage of Ofcom investigations into allegations of polarised and misleading output.
One of those investigations concerns an episode of Laurence Fox’s show on the “anti-woke” channel – a broadcast that was guest hosted by former deputy Reclaim Party leader Martin Daubney.
The show featured a discussion on immigration and UK asylum policy with Reform UK party leader Richard Tice. Ofcom is probing whether it met “due impartiality” rules on “matters relating to…public policy” and whether an “appropriately wide range of significant views must be included”. It caused enough complaints to push the watchdog into gear.
GB News has arguably done more than any other outlet to boost fringe parties like Reform UK and Reclaim. And the friendly relationship between newish GB News recruit Lee Anderson MP, who now receives £100,000 for his presenting role with the station, and ex-Reclaim bigwig Martin Daubney bears investigating.
Don’t miss a story
“Reclaiming” the Right
Daubney, the former editor of defunct UK “lads’ mag” Loaded, has expressed views that are not only conspiratorial and parrot far-right rhetoric, but that also fly in the face of government policy too.
Anderson has described Daubney as his “very good” friend, and praised him for “his no nonsense but politically unbiased approach to broadcasting”, adding that “GB News is probably the most balanced news channel”.
Daubney, for his part, has called Anderson his “pal”, before defending him against the so-called “gutter press” and “Lefty activists” when other outlets spotted Anderson’s repeated gaffes on air.
Anderson was interviewed last year by Daubney on Laurence Fox’s ‘Lozza’s Lock In’ show, a Reclaim party podcast, with the Reclaim leader and deputy leader acting as co-hosts.
Anderson’s decision to appear at the event, described on Facebook Live as run “by the Reclaim Party” even drew scepticism from Conservative bible the Spectator, who questioned: “Why did a Conservative MP agree to appear in the communications output of another political party?”
The publication further argued that far from amplifying the Conservatives, Anderson’s appearance had in fact bolstered Reclaim instead. And the publication questioned whether Anderson’s views concerning food banks and food writer Jack Monroe were really the views of the Conservative Party at all.
Given the willingness of Daubney and others in the Reclaim / Reform network to espouse views contrary to both Government policy and traditional Conservatism, the critique seems apt.
Friends like These
Daubney’s conspiratorial tendencies are pretty clear to see. In February 2022, Daubney tweeted: “Question: the war in Ukraine should be the most filmed & shared in history. In the smartphone age, practically everyone is a citizen journalist. So where’s all the footage?” The footage, of course, was very easily accessible.
The same month on GB News, he repeated a line often used by Nigel Farage, that “if you jab a bear [Russia] with a stick for long enough, like Putin, he’s going to get angry”, calling the war in Ukraine “inevitable” and the fault of NATO.
Later, in March, Daubney defended a TalkRadio phone-in where a caller questioned the validity of images of the Ukraine war. The caller was rebuffed.
Daubney jumped to the rescue, writing: “What’s been especially repulsive since Brexit, COVID & now Ukraine is how media outlets ridicule, interrupt, & demonise anyone who disagrees with them”. (Fellow GB News host Neil Oliver has also been accused of being an “apologist for Russian fascism” after appearing to accuse the West of lying about the war, but that hasn’t bothered other Conservative MPs either).
Daubney has flirted with far-right conspiracies on Twitter, repeatedly making references to a “globalist elite”, a term that has been associated with anti-semitism and the alt-right.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt describes it as originating from “a reference to Jewish people who are seen as having allegiances not to their countries of origin like the United States, but to some global conspiracy” and that the phrase is “rooted in prejudice”.
In 2022, Daubney accused Steve Baker MP of bowing down to “globalist Rishi Sunak”, and “siding with the Remainer, WEF coup” – a nod to a World Economic Forum proposal, ‘The Great Reset’, similarly hijacked by conspiracists as part of a grand conspiracy by “the global elite” to force economic instability with lockdown restrictions and usher in a socialist government.
He also predicted – once again referencing WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab as part of the same apparent plot – that “Net Zero will kill our most vulnerable. We need a revolution against Klaus Schwab’s puppets”.
Far-Right Echo Chamber
Daubney has on multiple occasions garnered praise from the extreme right. In April, it was reported that Daubney was hailed by senior members of far-right extremist nationalist group Patriotic Alternative.
In a leaked audio of a PA meeting, Deputy Leader Laura Melia was overheard speaking positively of Daubney, telling others that, when they were briefly allowed back on Twitter, they’d received his support, adding: “I really feel like we’re beginning to move the Overton window and nationalism, ethnic nationalism, is becoming more mainstream.” (There is no suggestion Daubney agreed with this take).
Daubney being openly promoted by the far-right is not an isolated incident. Aside from organising a ‘Straight Pride’ march in 2007, when he was still editor of the magazine Loaded, he’s also been exposed by Hope Not Hate as previously having strong links to the ‘Men’s Rights Activist’ (MRA) movement of misogynists and anti-feminists.
In 2016, he spoke at the International Conference on Men’s Issues, founded by prominent American MRA group A Voice for Men (AVFM). The group’s founder Paul Elam once called for the month of October to be renamed “Bash a Violent Bitch Month”.
Yet Daubney defended Elam in the Telegraph, saying that he and other members of the MRA movement have “long been smeared as some of the internet’s biggest anti-feminist bogeyman”.
Social Media Frenzy
That could be dismissed as ancient history, perhaps, if he has mellowed since. But on 23 February this year, Daubney tweeted his outrage at the Facebook group ‘Hotels Housing Illegals’ being banned from the platform. Daubney told followers that the page was “a group with 14k members, to coordinate peaceful, legitimate protests against £10 million/day hotels”.
Helpfully, the group moderator, Daz Brady, was quick to direct former members to the group’s telegram channel, where posters aren’t bound by Facebook community guidelines.
The chat itself heavily features violent, nationalist, antisemitic language, where members have shared desires to gather up “patriots” and “fight them [people crossing the channel in small boats] on the beaches”, up to and including openly expressing wishes to commit acts of violence.
One user, who’s profile picture is the logo of Oswald Mosley’s Fascist Party, at one point told the group that “not possible to buy guns police won’t give us licences, but crossbows all you need is to be over 18 and around £159/£300 no checks or records”.
Members of the chat group have referred to Judaism as “a blood cult”, and refugees are usually termed “invaders”. One member shared an image which reads: “This is your land. It doesn’t belong to foreigners including Rishi Sunak”.
Others have speculated that they “only have to sink a few boats to slow this down. Start with the Border Farce [sic] and the RNLI”. Curiously, the group also featured at one point a user going by the name ‘Martin Daubney’ (though the user hasn’t appeared under that name recently).
What’s more interesting is that on 25 February, two days after posting about the anti-refugee Facebook group being removed, Daubney tweeted about a demonstration in which anti-fascists had allegedly thrown eggs at far-right protesters, posting a picture of a smashed shell on the floor with the caption “‘Anti-racists’ are throwing eggs, which seems somewhat at odds which [sic] them moaning about Brexit food shortages”. Some suggested that the post implied he’d been at the protest.
However, the picture had in fact been posted to the same Telegram earlier, a leak seen by Byline Times shows.
Daubney appears to have been sourcing other stories from this Telegram chat, later to appear on GB News. One concerned the alleged rape of a 15 year old girl by four Afghan refugee boys attending a school near Dover.
During the relevant time period, members were praising Martin for jumping on the story they’d been sharing among themselves, with one writing: “Martin Daubney just brought this up on GB News, he’s fuming main stream news are’nt [sic] covering it” and: “At least he’s had the courage to bring it up and we have to play our part by sharing it on social media”.
The story was then circulated widely among the far right and picked up by fringe outlets, with Daubney tweeting on 25 February “CONFIRMED: Five girls have been suspended from Astor College, Dover, after they protested against “regular” sexual harassment by refugee boys… This follows as [sic] alleged rape at the school”.
Less attention seems to have been paid however to the followup in Kent Online, posted 4 days prior to Martin’s tweet, which revealed that “all four suspects – understood to be young asylum seekers – have been released without charge after a thorough investigation found no evidence an assault had taken place”.
The multiple instances of Daubney swiftly sharing content from and promoting this group raises eyebrows, as does the friendly relationship he appears to have with group moderator Daz Brady, who he’s been pictured drinking socially with (as well as with GB News regular Calvin Robinson).
Despite claims that they are not, and don’t associate with the far-right, Daubney, Laurence Fox and Robinson have all attended anti-Drag Queen Story Hour events outside the Honour Oak pub in Lewisham. The protests have been organised by Turning Point UK, the activist organisation accused of “mainstreaming extremist views” and are frequented by individuals like Brady and Patriotic Alternative. TPUK denies that it is a far-right group.
Ashfield local Arran Rangi, 24, an organiser for the campaign group Lee Anderson Watch, told Byline Times: “It’s very worrying as a Punjabi person growing up in Ashfield, to have your MP so close to someone so praised by the far right. Anderson himself has been praised by the far right too.
“That’s terrifying for someone who is visibly an ethnic minority here. Conservatives seem to think Anderson can speak to Red Wall voters – as if all working class people are the same. Sooner or later this will come back to bite him.
“The Conservative tactic of amplifying Anderson’s controversial takes speaks to how they don’t understand voters here. Not everyone here hates migrants or is hard-right. It’s so divisive. I grew up here, I’ve faced racism but the majority of the community really embrace me and my family.
“Anderson is doing so much on GB News as he knows he’ll be out at the next election.”
His cosying up to senior presenters like Daubney and the right-wing outlet was branded an effort to “line up the next stage of his career.”
Martin Daubney and Lee Anderson did not respond to requests for comment.
Do you have a story that needs highlighting? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org